The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings Extended Edition is easily one of the most impressive games to ever appear on the Xbox 360. Although the series has its roots firmly planted on the PC, developer CD Projekt Red proved that the 360’s six-year-old hardware isn’t as antiquated as the system specs would have you believe. I think it is important to preface this review by noting the phenomenal development achievement that The Witcher 2 represents on a purely technical level – thankfully however, it also delivers one of the most fully featured and content heavy role-playing experiences to date.

The Witcher 2 puts you in control of Geralt of Rivia, who as the title would suggest is a Witcher. Witchers are essentially a brotherhood of genetically modified mercenaries whose purpose in life is to slay monsters and supernatural beings. Unlike the knights in shining armor that more traditional fantasy narratives would paint them as, the job of a Witcher is a thankless profession which sees an ignorant population only tolerating their existence while never accepting them as anything more then the swords which they carry on their backs.

The Witcher series tows an almost even line between the political intrigue of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series, and more traditional fantasy affairs such as those based on as Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. While the subjugation of elves and dwarves within the game world acts as little more then an attempt at making some sort of veiled commentary about racism, the political machinations are what really shine throughout.

As the title would suggest, regicide plays the central role of the The Witcher 2′s narrative. Having been framed for the murder of a king, Geralt sets out in search of the real killer in order to uncover the conspiracy behind the killing of kings. I am hesitant to go into too much more of the story, as it is one of the main reasons to pick up the game. Besides falling apart a bit towards the end, The Witcher 2 still spins a reasonably interesting tale throughout its duration.

Coming off of a game like Skyrim, I was under the impression that you couldn’t get much more role play centric then a game in the Elder Scrolls series, but The Witcher 2 proved me wrong. Very, very wrong. The shear number of combat situations and strategies that need to be employed in order to stay alive are as varied as they are complex. Being a Witcher, Geralt has a number of different tools at his disposal for surviving each encounter. Potions provide temporary buffs to health, damage or armor, while devices such as traps and bombs can be used to swing the flow of battle in your favor. The challenge in learning how to succeed at the combat system comes with an understanding of how to manage a crowd, where mobility and damage avoidance become the keys to victory.

The three upgrade paths (magic, alchemy, swordsman), allow the player to explore different ways of catering the game to their suited play style. I found myself wandering down the swordsman path most often, as I came to enjoy the countering and abilities that came with the path. The end of each path gives access to some truly game altering abilities that make the difficulty of the game seem trivial as you mash your way through encounters without having to be aware of your health or mana. Oddly enough, I found the hardest encounters to be ones that took place in the prologue while I was still unfamiliar with how to proceed during combat. By giving the player access to such game breaking techniques and abilities, the overall impact of the combat was lessened dramatically. This isn’t to say I found myself bored, just less interested – much in the same way I felt about the combat in Skyrim after 60 hours.

Despite a combat system that falls apart towards the end of the game, The Witcher 2 isn experience that fans of the genre shouldn’t miss. It is still probably an experience better suited for the PC, but if your rig isn’t up to the task, the Xbox version is more then enough to realize the beautifully rendered and detailed world that CD Prokjekt Red worked so hard to create.

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NOTE

I am headed North. Despite my want to update every day of 2012, without Internet at the ready updates will be less frequent. With a decrease in frequency will come an increase in quality…maybe.

I’ve got a bunch of games, and a bunch of shitty games.

I’m excited.

SPIKE CHUNSOFT LAUNCHES ‘CONCEPTION: Please Have My Babies’*, DUNGEON CRAWL RPG FOR PSP®

*The title is a literal translation of Japanese title and the English title is TBD.

Today, Spike Chunsoft announced the launch of CONCEPTION: Please Have My Babies (English title TBD), a brand new dungeon crawl RPG in which the player playing as a high school student who was taken to a parallel universe called Granvania. The game is released for PSP ® on April 26, 2012 for a suggested retail price of ¥5,980 (w/o tax) in Japan. North American and/or European releases of the game are TBD.

Granvania was facing a crisis invaded by KEGARE (demonic creatures) arise from disorder of the stars. The player will be treated as MAREBITO meaning a messiah in Granvania. The adventure to save the world and to get back to the usual world begins.

KEGARE can only be beaten by MAREBITO and STAR CHILDREN, the children between MAREBITO and zodiac maidens. Maidens cannot fight with KEGARE but can bear STAR CHILDREN. As the player forms a stronger bond with maidens, a more powerful STAR CHILD will be born. Deepen your love with maidens and have strong babies.

A god of KEGARE lives in the deepest floor of star labyrinth. Each time the player visits the labyrinth, its level layout and rewards are randomized. Be aware of deadly creatures and traps and go through the dungeon to reach the deepest floor. The combat is turn-based and the player can form a party with up to 12 STAR CHILDREN. Unite your power with children and defeat the god of KEGARE.

 

Please let the tagline be “Have Sex, Save the World”

I am heading to the uncharted wilderness better known as Northern Minnesota for the summer. Without Internet I will be left at the mercy of my backlog – to which I will attempt to clean as best I can before returning to real society in the fall.

So here are a few goals for the summer:

– Complete Bit.Trip.Runner

– Full totems on Bastion dream sequences

– Diplomatic Win in Civ V

– Play around with Cryengine3

Borderlands, Borderlands, and more Borderlands. Solo by choice..and no Interent.

– I have a bunch of DS games packed, so I guess my goal is to play at least one of them.

– Buy Final Fantasy XIII-2, complain about not having internet connection to download the horrible DLC.

I really should pick a layout with a wider article field. But no.

via Reddit

I’ll admit I am not a huge follower of Keillor, but the thought of a game penned by the satirist would be one I’d be eager to play. There is something about Keillor’s version of America that is noticeably absent from the annals of game design.

What could a person with little to no game design experience bring to a project? Just such a scenario played out when author Shigesato Itoi went to Nintendo in the late 80s with the hopes of creating his own game.

Talking to current Nintendo Satoru Iwata, Itoi extrapolated on his reasons for putting forth the idea for the original Mother.

“IWATA: Ah, I see. When you brought your idea for a game called MOTHER to Nintendo, was it that you wanted to try your hand at creating it, or was it that you wanted it to be created so you could play it?

ITOI: I just wanted to play it, of course.

IWATA: That’s a very Shigesato Itoi-like starting point for sure! (laughs) If I had asked Mr. Miyamoto (Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario) the same thing, for example, he would never have answered, “I just wanted to play the final version.” I’m almost certain of it.

ITOI: Yeah, you’re probably right. He and I DO come from different professions.”

So maybe Keillor would have to want to create a game, rather then be solicited to for ideas, but I can always hope can’t I? Especially great would be the weird contrivances Keillor would come up with to explain gameplay mechanics. From the same interview Itoi explained one of the weirder points of Mother 3:

“ITOI: Definitely not. It was because we were always saying, “Boy, this part is bland…” at the workplace that things like the underwater oxygen machines in MOTHER 3 came about.

IWATA: Oxygen machines…?

NAGATA: There’s a section in the game where you travel along the ocean floor. Your breath slowly runs out, so you have to use oxygen machines to replenish your air supply. And, for whatever reason, those oxygen machines are crossdressing mermen who use mouth-to-mouth to give you their air.

IWATA: Ah, I see.

ITOI: After trying to come up with so many ideas and rejecting them all, it’s a real treat when you hit upon such a “far out there” solution.

IWATA: The more you struggle with something, the more unique and memorable it becomes.”

ITOI: The idea to block the path with an octopus was born from desperation and struggling. Normally you’d just block a path with a rock, you know?

With memorable and unique not necessarily meaning “good,” I think whatever Keillor would come up with would fit nicely into either category and would be an interesting experiment no matter the outcome. If Keillor could even have 1/10th the success of Itoi, gamers everywhere would be in for a treat.

Full Interview Here

Here

via Game Informer

Can you guess which one?

Notch (of Minecraft fame) playing a Quake Live match against what sounds like a 10 year old Internet user whose Minecraft site violates ToS. I am fairly certain that Quake 3 Arena came out before Notch’s opponent was born.

EDIT: No surprise, but Notch won meaning…